O'Brien, T., Nedelkoska, L. & Frasheri, E., 2017. What is the Binding Constraint to Growth in Albania?, Center for International Development at Harvard University.Abstract

About four years ago, at the onset of CID’s engagement in Albania, the country faced two issues that were threatening its macro-fiscal stability: a skyrocketing public debt and an insolvent, publicly-owned electricity distribution system that was plagued by theft and technical inefficiency. These two interlinked issues constrained both short-term economic growth and the ability of the country to develop new drivers of long-term growth. Over the subsequent years, the government was able to successfully respond to these constraints through a now-concluded IMF program and through a series of reforms in the electricity sector. With these constraints now relaxed, CID saw the need for a new analysis of the current and emerging constraints to growth in Albania. This analysis will guide future research and inform the government and non-government actors on emerging economic issues for prioritization.

While growth has accelerated over the last several years, to over 3% in 2016, this is not a pace that will allow for a rapid convergence of incomes and well-being in Albania with that of developed countries in Europe and elsewhere. This growth diagnostic attempts to identify the binding constraint to sustainably higher economic growth in Albania.

Recognizing that economic growth requires a number of complementary inputs, from roads to human capital to access to finance and many more, this report compares across eight potentially binding constraints using the growth diagnostic methodology to identify which constraint is most binding. This research was conducted throughout 2016, building on prior research conducted by CID and other organizations in Albania. Each constraint discussed in this report is cited by analysts within or outside the country as the biggest problem for growth in Albania. Through the growth diagnostic framework, we are able to evaluate the evidence and show that some constraints are more binding than others.

Despite serious issues in many other areas, we find that the binding constraint to stronger growth in Albania is a lack of productive knowhow. By “knowhow,” we mean the knowledge and skills needed to produce complex goods and services. Albania faces a unique knowhow constraint that is deeply rooted in its closed-off past, and the limited diversification that has taken place in the private sector can, in nearly all cases, be linked to distinct inflows of knowhow. The strongest sources of knowhow inflows into Albania have been through foreign direct investment and immigration, especially returning members of the diaspora who start new businesses or upgrade the productivity of existing businesses.

The evidence also points to particular failings in rule of law in Albania that play an important role in keeping Albania in a low-knowhow equilibrium. Weaknesses in Albania’s rule of law institutions, including frequent policy reversals and corruption in the bureaucracy and judiciary, increase the risk of investments and transaction costs of business. While it is difficult to separate perceptions from reality in this area, both perceptions of weak rule of law and actual rule of law failings appear to play critical roles in constraining more diversified investment in Albania. We find that while existing firms in Albania successfully navigate the rule of law weaknesses, and in some cases benefit from the system, potential new investors are acutely sensitive to rule of law issues.


Obuchi, R., Lira, B. & Raguá, D., 2016. Microeconomic binding constraints on private investment and growth in Venezuela A. Guerra, ed.,Abstract

Venezuela’s business environment is systematically evaluated as one of the worst in the world. Producing and investing in the country imposes costs and risks arising from macroeconomic instability. Beyond the problems of inflation, fiscal deficit and trade balance; firms and entrepreneurs also face enormous difficulties and discouragement going from the uncertainty about property rights to lack of electricity. To identify binding microeconomic constraints for investment in Venezuela, we reviewed international rankings and experiences about key elements of the business environment and conducted interviews with members of guilds and managers at large companies in the country. We find that the most biding constraints to investment are within the functioning of institutions, including weak property rights, and arbitrary, unbalanced and unpredictable enforcement of the law. Also binding is the flawed functioning of markets, including access to inputs and price controls.

Jimenez, A., 2016. Increasing Exports of Albanian Cultivated Fish to the EU,Abstract

This document explores Albanian aquaculture in the context of European aquaculture and compares it to neighboring countries, especially Greece. Using information from fieldwork, multiple reports by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and interviews with experts in government and non-government institutions, we analyze the production of European seabass and Gilthead seabream in Europe in general and in Albania in particular. Albanian cultivation of seabass and seabream has increased sevenfold since production started in the early 2000’s, but it represented only 0.38% of European aquaculture of these two species in 2013. Albania has significantly lower productivity than its neighbors, especially Greece, the dominant actor in the market. The analysis indicates that Albania’s lower productivity is caused by: (i) high costs of cages, fingerlings, and feed; which are all imported; (ii) lack of a formal fish market; and (iii) lack of clarity in the regulation. The document concludes by offering recommendations to get over these impediments for growth including reducing tariffs; encouraging national production of cages, fingerlings, and feed through investment in research; offering more and better financing options for cage acquisition; improving quality controls; establishing a national fish market; and passing the Aquaculture Law to bring clarity to the sector regulation.

Orozco, M., 2015. The Demand for and Supply of Nostalgic Products among the Albanian-Americans: A Survey,Abstract

The U.S. is home to more than 200,000 ethnic Albanians, about half of whom are emigrants from the Republic of Albania. Despite the significant Albanian population in the U.S., official trade of Albanian goods in the U.S. almost does not exist.

We surveyed about 200 Albanian-Americans and several stores offering goods imported from the Balkan region of Europe in three U.S. metropolitan areas with large Albanian population in order to study their purchasing habits. We found that the willingness to purchase products from the region of origin is certainly not matched by an adequate supply. The stores which offer such products are few, often hard to reach and offer limited supplies of a small variety of commodities. In the study, we recommend steps to strengthen the market for nostalgic good through continued market research, trade-related technical assistance, diaspora-donor partnerships for nostalgic trade development and trade fairs.

Ali, O., 2015. Revitalizing the Albanian Electricity Sector ,Abstract

In an attempt to recuperate its dysfunctional electricity distribution system, Albania privatized its sole electricity distribution company in 2009. Disappointed with the results of the privatization, just five years later, the State of Albania renationalized the company.

The case study “Revitalizing the Albanian Electricity Sector” analyzes the key sources of inefficiencies in the electricity distribution sector in Albania and the structural problems of the current state-owned company. It explains how the tariff setting and the failed infrastructural investments triggered a chain effect of financial instability which spilled beyond the limits of the electricity sector and discusses possible reforms to the sector.

Lawrence, R., Frasheri, E. & Qazi, M., 2014. Integration in the Balkans: Albania and Kosovo,Abstract

Despite their historic and ethnic ties, trade and investment between Albania and Kosovo remains underdeveloped. To be sure, even if fully developed, Kosovo is unlikely to play a major role in Albanian external economic relations. Nonetheless, increased economic integration between the two countries can serve as the basis not only for enhancing the ties between the two countries, but also for spurring the measures that could act as a springboard for Albania’s integration with respect to other countries in the Balkans as well as with the EU.  

Hausmann, R., Tyson, L.D. & Zahidi, S., 2009. The Global Gender Gap Report 2009, World Economic Forum.Abstract

Over the last year, the world has seen the biggest recession in almost a century. It is clear that recovery will require, among other things, the best of talent, ideas and innovation. It is therefore more important now than ever before for countries and companies to pay heed to one of the fundamental cornerstones of economic growth available to them—the skills and talent of their female human resource pool.As consumers, voters, employees and employers, women will be integral to global economic recovery. However, it is not only the financial and economic system that is in need of rethinking, redesigning and rebuilding. Global challenges such as climate change, food security, conflict, education and health require our immediate, collective efforts to find solutions and will, in fact, be intimately linked to our long-term global economic recovery. Girls and women make up one half of the world’s population—without their engagement, empowerment and contribution, we cannot hope to effectively meet these challenges nor achieve rapid economic recovery. And yet, there is still much work to be done in education, health, the workplace, legislation and politics before women around the globe enjoy the same opportunities as men.There are still millions of “missing” women each year because of the preference for sons in some parts of the world.There are too many female infants who do not receive adequate access to healthcare because of the lower value placed on girls, adding to the global burden of infant mortality. Girls are still missing out on primary and secondary education in far greater numbers than boys, thus depriving entire families, communities and economies of the proven and positive multiplier effects generated by girls’ education and instead aggravating poverty, the spread of HIV/AIDS, and maternal and infant mortality. In those countries where women do indeed receive the benefits of health and education, far too many are then unable to contribute fully and productively to the economy because of barriers to their entry into the workforce or barriers to accessing positions of leadership. Finally, women still remain vastly under-represented in political leadership and decision-making.The combined impact of these gaps entails colossal losses to the global society and economy. Measuring the size of the problem is a prerequisite for identifying the best solutions.Through the Global Gender Gap Reports, for the past four years, the World Economic Forum has been quantifying the magnitude of genderbased disparities and tracking their progress over time. By providing a comprehensive framework for benchmarking global gender gaps, the Report reveals those countries that are role models in dividing resources equitably between women and men, regardless of their level of resources. The World Economic Forum places a strong emphasis on a multi-stakeholder approach in order to engage leaders to design the most effective measures for tackling global challenges. In 2008, we launched our Global Gender Parity Group and Regional Gender Parity Groups in Latin America, the Middle East,Africa and Asia.To date, these multi-stakeholder communities of highly influential leaders—50% women and 50% men—from business, politics, academia, media and civil society have jointly identified the biggest gaps in each region, based in part on the findings of this Report, and have collectively committed to strategies to improve the use of female talent. In addition, our Global Agenda Council on the Gender Gap, an expert council, is using the findings of this Report as one of the inputs for developing proposals to address gaps in international cooperation towards gender equality. Each of the individuals and organizations represented in these communities work collectively towards empowering women, developing globally replicable frameworks and bringing the world ever closer to achieving gender parity.

Hausmann, R., Austin, E.L. & Mia, I., 2009. The Mexico Competitiveness Report 2009, World Economic Forum.Abstract

The past 20 years have been a period of important reforms in Mexico. Since the late 1980s, the country has undergone an impressive process of liberalization, opening of the economy, and macroeconomic stabilization. Extreme vulnerability to external shocks, double-digit inflation, and current account and fiscal deficits seem to have been overcome. However, a number of weaknesses continue to drag the country’s productivity and hence its potential for sustained economic growth and the well-being of its citizens. In spite of a very benign external environment in the period 2003–07, Mexico’s growth rates have been disappointing, and the challenges facing the country have become even greater in the context of the current major economic and financial crisis — one of the most serious in decades — affecting the United States and the rest of the world. The Mexico Competitiveness Report 2009 aims at providing Mexico’s policymakers, business leaders, and all relevant stakeholders with a unique tool that identifies the country’s main competitiveness flaws and strengths, together with an in-depth analysis of areas that are key to the country’s potential for long-term growth. In doing so, the Report aims to support the country’s reform process and contribute to the definition of a national competitiveness agenda of the priority issues that need to be tackled for Mexico to boost its competitiveness in the face of the present daunting economic outlook. The Report is organized into three thematic parts. Part 1 assesses the current state of Mexico’s competitiveness and its potential for sustained growth using the broad methodological framework offered by the Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) 2008–2009. Part 2 features contributions from a number of experts providing additional insights and diagnostics related to particular aspects of the competitiveness challenges faced by the country. Part 3 includes detailed profiles for Mexico and 10 selected countries and offers a comprehensive competitiveness snapshot for each of these countries.